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EU Threatens Turkey with Sanctions Over Provocations Against Greece, Cyprus

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades chats with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the EU Summit on Thursday. Credit: Greek government

After a marathon session of talks in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders expressed solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and warned Turkey it would face sanctions over its provocations in the Mediterranean.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Ankara to “abstain from unilateral actions” in the eastern Mediterranean.
She told reporters that the EU wanted “a positive and constructive relationship with Turkey and this would be also be very much in Ankara’s interest”.
“But it will only work if the provocations and pressures stop,” she said. “We therefore expect that Turkey from now on abstains from unilateral actions. In case of such renewed actions by Ankara the EU will use all its instruments and options available. We have a toolbox that we can apply immediately.”


After their late-night meeting, EU members agreed to review Turkey’s behavior in December and impose sanctions if “provocations” had not stopped.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, posting on Twitter after the meeting, said: “The EU issues a clear threat of sanctions against Turkey should it continue to violate international law.”
European Council President Charles Michel said the EU was offering Turkey closer relations on trade and other areas but holding out the threat of sanctions if tensions in the Mediterranean did not de-escalate.
Greek government sources said that it was a very difficult negotiation to reach a common stance against Turkey, but the final text adopted is better than the one that was originally proposed.
Athens and Nicosia wanted the EU to state explicitly the sanctions that Turkey would face, but some European countries, led by Germany, insisted on toning down the language.
Mitsotakis satisfied
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday expressed Athens’ satisfaction with the conclusions of the summit, upon his arrival for the second day of the special European Council.
“The EU sent a clear message of unity, solidarity and determination. It made it very clear that the ending of any unilateral action is a condition for improving EU-Turkey relations, something that we all want,” he said.
He added that the summit “made absolutely clear what the consequences will be if Turkey continues its aggressive behavior. Greece is absolutely satisfied with the conclusions of the summit and we look forward to the start of exploratory contacts as soon as possible, as both sides have committed to doing.”


The EU conclusions
Following is the text of the Summit conclusions in relation to Greece, Cyprus and Turkey:
Eastern Mediterranean
15. The EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. Pursuing dialogue in good faith and abstaining from unilateral actions which run counter to the EU interests and violate international law and the sovereign rights of EU Member States is an absolute requirement in this regard. All differences must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and in accordance with international law. In this context, the European Council reiterates its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, whose sovereignty and sovereign rights must be respected.
16. The EU welcomes the recent confidence building steps by Greece and Turkey, as well as the announcement that they will resume their direct exploratory talks aiming at the delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone of the two countries. These efforts need to be sustained and broadened.
17. At the same time, the European Council strongly condemns violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus which must stop. The European Council calls on Turkey to abstain from similar actions in the future, in breach of international law. The European Council underlines that delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone should be addressed through dialogue and negotiation in good faith, in full respect of international law, and calls on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in dialogue with the objective of settling all maritime-related disputes between Turkey and Cyprus.
18. The European Council supports the speedy resumption of negotiations, under the auspices of the UN, and remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework and in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, including UNSC resolutions 550 and 789, and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. It expects the same of Turkey. The EU stands ready to play an active role in supporting the negotiations, including by appointing, upon resumption, a representative to the UN Good Offices Mission.
19. Provided constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus are sustained, the European Council has agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda with a specific emphasis on the modernisation of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, High level dialogues, continued cooperation on migration issues, in line with the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement. The European Council invites its President, in cooperation with the President of the Commission and with the support of the High Representative, to develop a proposal for re-energising the EU-Turkey agenda to this effect.
20. Recalling and reaffirming i.a. its previous conclusions on Turkey of October 2019, in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU will use all the instruments and the options at its disposal, including in accordance with Article 29 TEU and Article 215 TFEU, in order to defend its interests and those of its Member States.
The European Council will continue to closely monitor developments and will revert accordingly and take decisions as appropriate at the latest at its December meeting.
21. Finally, the European Council calls for a Multilateral Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean and invites the High Representative to engage in talks about its organization. Modalities such as participation, scope and timeline will need to be agreed with all involved parties. The Conference could address issues on which multilateral solutions are needed, including maritime delimitation, security, energy, migration and economic cooperation.

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